Thursday, February 02, 2006

Missing the Boat

One of the things that has bewildered me over the last year or two (and there are plenty of things that bewilder me) is how the data quality vendors have seemed oblivious to the emerging trend of master data management (MDM). On the face of it, there are few sectors more in need of a fillip. Data quality, which involves a lot of human issues such as data governance, and getting business people involved, is a hard sell. Rooting out errors in data is hardly the sexiest area to be working in, and as the solution is only partially provided by technolopgy, projects and initiatives here are prone to failure (human nature being what it is). The space has seen significant consolidation on recent years: Avellino was bought by Trillium, Evoke was bought by Similarity systems, Vality by Ascential (now IBM), Group 1 also by Pitney Bowes, who also made an abortive attempt to buy First Logic (if you can figure that strategy out, answers would be gratefully received), while Trillium is owned by Harte Hanks. Now Similarity systems has in turn been acquired by Informatica. Not the sign of a flourishing sector.

Surely then data quality vendors should have seized on MDM like a drowning man would at a life-raft? Data quality issues are a significant element of master data management, and while having software that can match up disparate name and address files is a long way from having a true MDM offering, remember that this is the tinseltown world of high-tech marketing, where a product can morph into another field with just a wave of a Powerpoint wand. Data quality vendors certainly ought to have grasped that matching up disparate definitions of things like "product" and "customer" was at least related to what their existing offerings did, and could have launched new MDM-flavored offerings to pick up on the coat-tails of the nascent but burgeoning MDM bandwagon. Instead there hasn't been a peep, and vendors have resigned themselves to being picked off by in some cases somewhat odd acquirers (Pitney Bowes, for example, is a direct mail firm; does it really grasp what it takes to be an enterprise software vendor?). Having avoided the clutches of Pitney Bowes, First Logic is now making progress in talking about MDM, but it is not perceived by the market as an MDM vendor. Elsewhere in the data quality industry, the silence around MDM is deafening.

As the data quality market essentially disappears into the portfolios of integration companies like Ascential (now IBM) and Informatica (which at least make logical sense as buyers), and assorted others, the executives of some of these companies surely must be wondering whether they missed a trick.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Andy-
Two corrections:
- Firstlogic was not acquired by Pitney Bowes -- see

- Firstlogic does work with MDM data -- see and these two articles

9:13 AM  
Blogger Andy Hayler said...

Thank you very much - old age is clearly affecting my memory on the acquisition. I have updated the blog accordingly. I really appreciate you taking the time to point this out.

9:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Comment to the Anonymous first poster: just talking about master data management (e.g. 'working with MDM data') isn't the same thing as having a product.

Andy: To be fair to DataFlux, they've at least announced they will be coming out with a CDI product, so they haven't ignored the market completely. Look for V1 in 2006 (?) sometime. Of course, buyer beware for any V1 product...

7:47 AM  

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